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TRUCK with religious awe and folemn dread,
Around me tombs in mixt disorder rise,
And, in mute language, teach me to be wise.
Time was these ashes liv'd; a time must be
When others thus may stand and look at me.
Here, blended, lie the aged and the young,
The rich and poor, an undistinguish'd throng:
Death conquers all, and time's subduing hand,
Nor tombs nor marble statues can withstand.
Mark yonder ashes, in confusion spread !
Compare earth's living tenants with her dead !
How striking the resemblance! yet how juft!
Once life and soul inform'd this mass of duft:
Around these bones, now broken and decay'd,
The streams of life in various channels play'd:
Perhaps that skull, so horrible to view,
Was some fair maid's, ye belles, as fair as you;
These hollow fockets two bright orbs contain'd,
Where the loves sported, and in triumph reignid:
Here glow'd the lips; there, white as Parian stone,
The teeth, dispos'd in beauteous order, fhone,
This is life's goal-no farther can we view;
Beyond it, all is wonderful and new.
O fay, ye spirits, in a future state,
Why do ye hide the secrets of your fate,
And tell your endless pains or joys to none :-
Is it that men may live by faith alone ?
The grave has eloquence, its lectures teach,
In filence, louder than divines can preach:
Hear what it says-ye sons of folly hear ;
It speaks to you—lend an attentive ear:
It bids you lay all vanity aside;
A humbling lecture this for human pride.
The clock strikes twelve-how solemn is the found!
Hark, how the strokes from hollow vaults rebound!
They bid us hasten to be wise, and show
How rapid in their course the minutes flow.
Now airy shapes and hideous spectres dance
Athwart imagination's vivid glance ;
The felon now attack's the miser's door,
And ruthless murder prints her steps with gore :
Dull fancy now her dreary path pursues,
'Midft groves of cypress, and unhallow'd yews,
Poetic visions vanish from my brain,
And my pulse throbs as feebly as my strain.
What means this fudden, strange, unusual start,
This folemn something creeping to my heart?
Why fear to read a gracious God's decree ?
Why fear to look on what I soon must be ?
Can man be thoughtless of his end? or proud
Of charms that claim the coffin and the shroud ?
Come, let him read these sculptur'd tomb-ftones o'er,
Here fix his thoughts, and then be vain no more.
Let proud ambition learn this lesson hence,
Howe'er distinguish'd, dignify'd for sense ;
Whate'er the honour'd ensigns of renown,
The cap, the hood, the mitre, or the crown,
Death levels all: nor parts nor pow'rs can save ;
Milton himself muft moulder in the grave,
Who sung and prov’d, with inspiration strong,
The soul immortal, in immortal fong.
Hark! thus death speaks ; ingenious son of men,
Why boast the chillel, pencil, or the pen ?
Will fame, who oft denies her children bread,
Deceive the living, discompose the dead?
No; fame's a breath, it cannot life supply,
Nor yield you comfort when you come to die ;
In my dark realms all opposites agree,
The heirs of wealth, and sons of poverty.
Whose tomb is this? It says 'tis Mira's tomb,
Pluck'd from the world in beauty's faireft bloom :
Attend, ye fair, ye thoughtless, and ye gay!
For Mira dy'd upon her nuptial day!
The grave, cold bridegroom! clalp'd her in his arms,
And kindred worms destroy her pleasing charms.
In yonder tomb the old Avaro lies;
(Once he was rich, the world esteem'd him wise.)
Schemes unaccomplilh'd labour'd in his mind,
And all his thoughts were to this world confin'd;
Death came unlook'd for, from his grasping hands
Down dropp'd his bags, and morgages of lands.
Beneath that sculptur'd pompous marble stone,
Lies youthful Florio aged twenty-one :
Cropp'd like a flow'r, he wither'd in his bloom,
Though flatt'ring life had promis’d years to come.
Ye filken sons, ye Florio's of the age !
Who tread, in giddy maze, life's flow'ry stage,
Mark here the end of man! in Florio, see
What you and all the sons of earth must be.
There low in dust the vain Hortenfio lies,
Whose fplendour was beheld with envious eyes ;
Titles and arms his pompous marble grace,
With a long histry of his noble race:
Still after death his vanity survives,
And on his tomb, all of Hortenfio lives!
Around me, as I turn my wand'ring eyes,
Unnumber'd graves in awful prospect rise,
Whose stones say only when their owners dy'd,
If young, or aged, and to whom ally'd;
On others, pompous epitaphs are spread,
In mem’ry of the virtues of the dead;
Vain waste of praise! since, flattring or fincere,
The judgment-day alone will make appear.
How silent is this little spot of ground ! How melancholy looks each object round ! Here man, dissolv'd in shatter'd ruin lies So fast asleep-as if no more to rise ; 'Tis strange to think, how these dead bones can live, Leap into form, and with new heat revive ! Or how this trodden earth to life shall wake, Know its own place, its former figure take; But whence these doubts? when the last trumpet sounds Thro' heav'n's expanse, to earth’s remoteft bounds, The dead shall quit these tenements of clay, And view again the long-extinguish'd day : Cheer'd with this pleasing hope, I safely trust Th’ Almighty's pow'r to raise me from the duft.; On his unfailing promises rely, And all the horrors of the grave defy ; Death! where's thy sting? Grave ! where's thy victory?
TELCOME, thou Man of Sorrows, to my door !
A willing balm thy wounded heart shall find; And, lo! thy guiding Dog my cares implore ;
'O haste, and shelter from th’ unfeeling wind ! Alas! shall Mıs’r y seek my cot with sighs,
And humbly fue for piteous alms my ear; Yet disappointed go with lifted eyes,
And on my threshold leave th’ upbraiding tear? Thou bowest for the pity I bestow :
Bend not to me, because I mourn distress; I am thy debtor-much to thee I owe;
For learn--the greatest blessing is to bless. Thy hoary locks, and wan and pallid cheek,
And quiv'ring lip to fancy seem to say,
" A more than common BEGGAR we bespeak;
“ A form that once has known a happier day." Thy sightless orbs and venerable beard,
Ánd, press’d by weight of years, thy palsy'd head, Though silent, speak with tongues that must be heard,
Nay, must command, if Virtue be not dead. Thy shatter'd, yet thine awe-inspiring form
Shall give the village-lads the foften'd foul, To aid the victims of LIFE's frequent storm,
And smooth the surges that around them roll; Teach them that Poverty may MERIT shroud;
And teach that VIRTUE may from Misry spring; Flame like the lightning from the frowning cloud,
That spreads on NATURE's smile its raven wing. O let me own the heart which pants to bless ;
That nobly scorns to hide the useless store;
But looks around for objects of distress,
And triumphs in a sorrow for the poor !
When Heav'n on man is pleas’d its wealth to show'r,
Ah, what an envy'd blífs doth Heav'n bestow!
To raise pale Merit in her hopeless hour,
And lead DesPONDENCE from the tomb of Woe! Lo! not the little birds shall chirp in vain,
And, hov'ring round me, vainly court my care ;
While I possess the life-preserving grain,
Welcome, ye chirping tribe, to peck your share.
How can I hear your songs at SPRING's return,
And hear while SUMMER spreads her golden store ; Yet, when the gloom of WINTER bids ye mourn,
Heed not the plaintive voice that charm’d before ! Since FORTUNE, to my cottage not unkind,
Strews with fome flow'rs the road of life for me,
Ah! can HUMANITY desert my mind ?
Shall I not soften the rude flint for thee ?
Then welcome, BEGGAR, from the rains and snow,
And warring elements, to warmth and peace ;